Creating and using knowledge: an analysis of the differentiated nature of workplace learning environments

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Fuller, Alison ; Unwin, Lorna ; Felstead, Alan ; Jewson, Nick ; Kakavelakis, Konstantinos (2007)
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1080/01411920701582397
  • Subject: Adults , Cross-national , Workplace , Informal learning , Skills development

This paper argues that contemporary workplaces give rise to many different forms of knowledge creation and use, and, as a consequence to different forms of learning and pedagogical approaches. Some of these are utilised to the benefit of the organisation and employees (though not, necessarily, in a reciprocal manner), but others are buried within everyday workplace activity. The discussion builds on earlier work where it was argued that organisations differ in the way they create and manage themselves as learning environments, with some conceptualised as ‘expansive’ in the sense that their employees experience diverse forms of participation and, hence, are more likely to foster learning at work. By studying the way in which work is organised (including the organisation of physical and virtual spaces), this research is suggesting that it is possible to expose some of this learning activity as well as to identify examples where new (or refined) knowledge has been created. In this regard, it is argued that it is important to break down conceptual hierarchies that presuppose that learning is restricted to certain types of employee and/or parts of an organisation and to re-examine knowledge as applied to the workplace. The conclusion focuses on how such an approach, and in particular the use of a productive system analysis, is strengthening the concept of expansive and restrictive learning environments.
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